“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
The other day those words came to mind as I was leaving Philip. And a few more words came to mind too. Love…..
Never gets disappointed
Does not get frustrated
Does not have an agenda
Never hurts or harms
Does not manipulate
Does not tire or give up
And then I remembered the 3 simple words in scripture that follow those above.
“Love never ends.”
Then, a few days ago, this was brought to mind.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”
I found myself saying the other day, “Father, Love is relentless.” It makes so much sense. “Love bears ALL things, believes ALL things, hopes ALL things, endures ALL things.” That’s ALL! If I am not bearing all things, believing all things, hoping and enduring all things, then it’s not Love himself at work in me. It’s just me. How often does our love reach an end point, where our patience runs out, or where we become disappointed or frustrated with people when they don’t seem to be following the path we think they should be? Sometimes we give up, when Jesus is longing to continue his work of Love through us.
How much more is Love himself? When we are living and moving with the consciousness of Christ in us, when we say “Yes” to him, we become conscious of the relentlessness of Love himself. The relentlessness of the Shepherd who leaves the flock and goes out to look for the lost one. Love does not give up on the lost one when the one isn’t found in the place where we might expect or hope them to be. Love continues his search for the one, longing to bring them home to the Father.
Love himself takes us way beyond comfortable. And yet at the same time I am finding he doesn’t make us uncomfortable. I hear it said often about Jesus taking people out of their comfort zone. I don’t think there are any zones with Jesus! There is simply him. And when he is living and moving in us and we are living and moving in him, there is neither comfort or discomfort, there is simply Jesus himself. There is an understanding, a sense of “This is where I’m meant to be. This is what Jesus is doing.”
Our surrender to Love opens up a different world to us. We see people the way Father sees them. And they see Love in us. As an example, I sat down with Philip earlier this week. He was struggling. I didn’t have anything to say, so I just sat and smiled at him. And the first thing he said to me was, “I see Love in your eyes.” That is Love himself. And as I’ve surrendered to Love this week, he is working in me and in others. Love has borne fruit this week.
I won’t share in detail all that Love has been doing this week for people’s own sake, but I can confirm that he is absolutely relentless and that in surrendering, we find ourselves doing all manner of things with no thought for our own self. His message to those around us; “Love never ends.”
Love bears fruit in those who see Christ in us. Something happened this week which has encouraged me again that Jesus continues to look for disciples through whom he might continue to flow.
A few weeks back I was with a guy in Aldershot. We were talking about Jesus as he was sat in a shop doorway. While I was stood there, this lady (let’s call her Claire) comes up and says, “Would you be able to hold my dog for a while, maybe 15 mins or so?” She was sorting something out in a shop that was going to take a while.
It took quite a bit longer than expected! She was in and out of the shop, and she opened up a little about her life and things that were going on. 45 minutes later she had finished and I handed the dog back. I left with a sense that Father was drawing another ‘one.’
We crossed paths a couple of times over the next couple of weeks. And then last week I was sat on the bench with Philip, and Claire appears. Turns out she lives directly opposite the bench where Philip sits. And then the next thing we know she is bringing out water and coffee for him and looking after him. She sat with us, talked with us, and we spoke of Jesus, of choosing Life.
Over the last week Philip and I have seen her more often. And she has continued to help him and show him love. On Wednesday this week she was out on the bench with Philip before I arrived. She has her own things going on, and opened up to Philip that morning. He allowed Love in him to help her by listening to her. He was concerned for her and told me when I arrived that he was worried about her. I called her and we spoke about what was going on. We blessed her with Peace in the circumstances.
And this is the bit that made me understand how disciples are made by Jesus. I received a call from Claire in the afternoon. “Hi Pete. I’m in town, patrolling for you and looking out for people. I’m with a guy, you might know him, he’s living on the streets.” She then proceeded to tell me something which he had told her regarding someone else I had been looking for that day which I did know, but the point was the heart behind it. And then she says this.
“I’ve decided that I’m going to be on patrol and look out for people like you do. I’ll be one of your spotters. I’m a community pastor (her words) like you now! I don’t get church, but I have a lot of time for people like you who talk about Jesus in the way you do.”
No-one has asked her to do that. Claire tells me she doesn’t get church, but she is spiritual. I said that’s good cause Jesus is all about spiritual.
I love the different ways that Father draws people. Being in the right place at the right time to hold a dog was a new one for me!
I realise that Claire has seen Love himself at work. And has in turn been impacted by Love to help others. And that is how Jesus makes disciples. Not by fancy, persuasive words, but simply by being himself through us, and by people seeing him and experiencing him through us. They follow because they see him. They may not have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed in terms of theology and doctrine, but they get Jesus and they respond to him.
This is Love never-ending. Love goes on, relentlessly, in his search for the ones. To bring them home to the Father. And he goes on through us into others, through them and onward and onward. Love never ends!
Let me encourage you that Love in you and I can and will bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. Let’s surrender to Love here and now, and know and experience the relentlessness of Love himself at work through us.
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water